Mapp & Lucia
By E.F. Benson
(Prion, Hardcover, 9781853753909, 315pp.)
Publication Date: February 2001
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Mrs. Emmeline Lucas is the recently-widowed newcomer to the village of Tilling, eager to wrest the reins of social supremacy from the incumbent Miss Elizabeth Mapp and to install herself as its benevolent dictator. In their polite acts of sabotage, as they ruthlessly jockey for the position of cultural arbiter, Mapp and Lucia tear up the conventions of drawing-room diplomacy and enter a protracted conflict using fêtes, garden parties, musical soirées, and bridge evenings as their deadly weapons. Things finally come to a head with Miss Mapp's audacious attempt to steal her rival's celebrated recipe for Lobster à la Riseholme. With a charming satirical bent, E.F. Benson turns the pretensions and snobberies of English village life into a deliciously wicked comedy.
Novels of manners never get old. Any quick flip through one of today's celebrity magazines will prove that. From social climbers to spouse grabbers, century to century, nothing changes. Author Helen Simonson offers three novels for going beyond Jane Austen's gossip. More at NPR.org
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